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Prime Minister’s First Comments About Immigration “disappointing” And “ill-informed”

Principal immigration Lawyer at New Zealand Immigration Law, Aaron Martin, is “disappointed” what the Prime Minister had to say in his first public comments about immigration.

“I thought we were listening to a Labour Party broadcast from the Great Immigration Reset they did,” said Aaron about Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s words when Speaking on RNZ on 11 December, likening it to a rebroadcast of a Kris Faafoi speech.

“Luxton’s speech would have done Jacinda Ardern proud.

“If this was an indicator of where the current government is going with immigration, it doesn’t bode well for business. He might complain about 60,000 people being unemployed, but that doesn’t equate to 60,000 skilled people without work who can do the jobs employers are seeking to fill with international talent.”

Aaron Martin views the current settings as being some of the most restrictive settings he has seen in his 25-year career, and refers to Luxton’s comments as “showing a level of ignorance about criteria for residence.”

“The Prime Minister’s comments are ill informed because like every politician who comments about immigration he resorted to the most often overused and abused statistic: net migration.

“Using net migration fails to delve into the nuanced breakdown of visa categories—work visas, resident visas, and student visas—which provides a more comprehensive understanding of immigration dynamics.

“An informed debate on immigration demands a detailed analysis beyond the scope of 'net migration,' encompassing factors such as the number of work visa applicants, resident visa applicants, and student visa issued. This granularity is pivotal in comprehending the transient nature of temporary visa holders versus the permanence of resident visa holders.

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“Attributing infrastructural strain solely to net migration disregards the contribution of certain work visa holders towards enhancing national infrastructure. The assertion that immigration settings should align with skill shortages overlooks the fact that this alignment has been a fundamental aspect of policy for the past 25 years.

Mr Martin views the Prime Minister's recent rhetoric as indicating “a potential shift away from pro-business migration policies”, a sentiment that is reinforced by the government's announcement regarding the restoration of 90-day trials for businesses.

“However, a crucial exception exists—these trials will not apply when hiring international workers, as confirmed by Immigration New Zealand.

“This discrepancy creates an asymmetrical labour landscape, wherein terms and conditions of employment become less favourable for local New Zealanders compared to their international counterparts. The contradictory application of labour laws for local and migrant workers is a departure from the principle ensuring equitable treatment, causing concern within the business and immigration sectors.

“Why are the terms and conditions of employment now less favourable for New Zealanders than they are for international workers under this Government?”

Mr Martin is concerned that the Prime Minister is beginning to send “confused signals” to the business sector in regard to its intentions for immigration.

“Clarity on this issue is important for business confidence.

“The Prime Minister has a very able Minister of Immigration in Erica Stanford, who knows the policy well. He should leave it to her to drive informed debate based on detailed statistics rather than generic figures that make for good soundbites.”

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